Lots of people have a strange appreciation for what ’Marketing’ is and often conflate its key activities with Sales Lead Management and Sales Admin - where you see several joint Sales and Marketing Managers and Directors, where for me that is almost as skewed as being a Marketing and Finance Director - quite separate and different disciplines really - where one requires you to spend money and expand typically, and the other to curb activities and cut costs as an extreme example!
Sales as a discipline is primarily focused on personal Targeting and Prospecting based on proactive push-dynamics - where in a sense the sales team campaigns to overcome resistance to transactions, while continually driving its advantages home. Sales is usually a much more focused activity targeting individuals - where Marketing is more based on common cohorts and peer groups, and has a broader remit.
"In contrast to Sales, most Marketing is about pull-dynamics - where you emotionally engage a consumer group’s needs and project those desires and aspirations onto the products, services and brands you are promoting."
When I was being interviewed for ’Marketing’ jobs after Graduating from University - with a proper Marketing degree - the vast majority of those jobs that were advertised as Marketing - turned out to be simply menial Sales Leads and Sales Admin roles - wholly unsuitable for someone of erudite calibre. Probably as much as 85% was misleadingly described as Marketing - and during the interview you would discover that the job was mainly data entry and managing some salespersons’ calendars. I took the only sensible option at the time - and accepted a job in Advertising - well several actually - but only one materialised fully - that is entirely the competitive nature of that industry!
This article is in part written to target general misunderstandings about what Marketing is - as it seems to be a discipline that few outsiders properly understand - but nearly everyone has their own view of - and think they have some meritorious expertise in that field - without the necessary training, knowledge or experience.
So this piece sets out some of the different kinds of marketing and how and what they aim to achieve. Whenever you talk to me about marketing you are likely to hear me utter the phrase ’Post Purchase Dissonance’ - which is one of the most important facets of marketing, and one that the motorcar industry spends the most money on. It’s in part a sort of loyalty campaign - and is best explained by looking at executive saloon car choices - which often involve the usual Germanic trio of Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz. You’ve gone through the tortuous process of selecting your preferred make and model of car - where you had lots of competing and compelling options. Once you’ve taken delivery of your new vehicle, you start to question whether you really did make the right choice - and then and there - you need Marketing activity to target that Post Purchase Dissonance and reassure the customer that yes they definitely made the right choice - and would and should make the same choice again whenever the opportunity arose once more.
I’m heavily involved in the Guitar Effects Pedal Sector (GuitarPedalX.com) - and there the same paradigm reigns - in that it’s not really the initial acquisition which is the key action and decision-making process - but rather the eventual decision to actually hold onto and keep that pedal in your collection. There’s plenty of churn in that market where customers are often very quick to flip on or re-sell a pedal that they don’t immediately ’bond’ with. Having a lot of pedals hitting the second-hand market at the same time is obviously bad for the brand and cheapens the value and equity of that brand. So it’s important to inspire customers to hold to their choices.
"So you want to do everything in your power to convince the customer that they made the right choice - that their purchase is righteous and fully justified - and given the same opportunity again they would repeat the same action!"
Thus we have several stages and phases of marketing - pre-purchase, transitional, transactional, and post-purchase - and to do well you need to hit all those markers! I will endeavour to explain much of this in the following key points.
Another major factor is that it’s typically much easier to persuade an existing consumer to buy more and become a repeat-customer versus persuading and motivating an entirely new one.
I take a lot of pride in the creative process of brand-shaping, which includes the Logo, Typography and Ident, Brand Profile and Brand Values you are trying to evoke. This is a mix of Science and Art, poetry and reasoning - with a significant quotient of symbolism, 'projection' and NLP - neurolinguistic programming.
Brand Strategy, Brand Engineering and Trade Mark Creation is a highly skilled multi-disciplinary field of Marketing where you have agencies who largely solely specialise in Brand Identity - like Pentagram and Wolf Olins.
Affino does a fair amount of branding work every now and again - and we're particularly proud of the work we did for innovative charity - Humanity Direct. We selected a sort of African artisan scheme with suitably colour-themed earthy tones, and based lthe visual elements largely on a hand-crafted style and 70's African Poster Art.
Most people should be familiar with this function - typically served with a Sales CRM too - which involves significant amounts of database and calendar management, segmentation and Sales Leads Prospecting. I don't consider this a facet of pure-play Marketing necessarily - as most of this process is really associated with Database Management and Sales Resource planning - which I've always seen as a different administrative discipline, versus the more typical art and science of marketing.
The Marketing here should really be supporting the Sales Teams and Sale Admins with relevant Marketing Materials and Collateral that help bring the customer closer and into the sales funnel. Sales is often described as a sort of 'hunting' activity where you have 'beaters' and 'shooters' much like you do in those various types of game bird hunts - where some team members are focused on beating the ground and bushes to compel those birds to come out of hiding and take flight - where they are taken out by the buck-shots of the target men. The analogy here for sales is that some sales personnel initiate the original contact and identify the targets - and then its up to the shooters to make dinner happen!
My immediate association here is all those Coca-Cola ads I grew up with - and Benetton and Diesel campaigns - which were all about Shiny Happy People having a good time - with those products as props and celebratory tokens for those social occasions. Essentially the marketing of 'shiny happy people'.
So much of contemporary marketing is about lifestyle marketing and aspirations - product placement essentially - which reaches its natural zenith in the James Bond Franchise. All the recent Instagram and Influencer Marketing is really just another facet of Lifestyle Marketing - people see appealing and attractive social situations - and want their lives to match that virtual reality! Which is always something of a false construct - but still eternally compelling and appealing!
This is essentially inspiring your customers to buy more from you - make them feel good about their choices - and reward repeat purchases with a variety of incentives. It's so much easier to make an existing customer buy more, than to motivate an entirely new prospect to make their first purchase or service subscription. Once you have established a rapport you can appeal to your customers' best instincts and encourage them to buy add-ons and upgrades - to get much more of the same that they already love and enjoy.
There are lots of ways to do this - including forming various support and feedback groups and Loyalty Schemes obviously - helping the customers to feel that they are part of the process - and have some stake in the success of the enterprise.
This for me breaks down really into ad-hoc and opportunistic Marketing Campaigning, special offers etc. - both discounts and added-value - where particular messages are honed for different seasons and seasonal trends.
Making the opportunities more appealing at off-peak times - where great examples of that are 2-for-1 Tuesdays in the cinema - typically one of the lowest attendee volume days of the week. Obviously also activities like 'Happy Hour' in bars and pubs.
Essentially you are trying to make the best of off-season and-off-peak engagements where you still are able to bring in a certain amount of traffic with smartly targeted promotions. Services like 'Groupon' are pretty much built around such methodologies and scenarios.
This is essentially providing smartly branded markers which allow your consumers to carry out brand promotion on your behalf. Weirdly - the average person is quite happy to wear massively branded and labelled clothing - which does more for promoting that parent brand than adding any particular wear, comfort or design benefit to the garment.
Brand Merchandising is obviously a great way to do this - most famously in the example of the branded T-shirt and Pen. Product placement among media celebrities and influencers is also a key part of this mechanic - and you often end up with almost a pyramid scheme of adherents - all wearing the same heavily branded merchandise right through the ranks.
I often talk about associative branding - which is all part of that Lifestyle Marketing thing really in most ways. In the same way it is up to you to portray aspirational situations which elevate and promote your brand identity - often in relation to other successful and well-loved brands. I am often hugely surprised by weird offshoots like 'Supreme' - who simply convey exclusivity by making very limited editions with collaborating brands - the whole premise is entirely artificial and artificially limited to boot! They famously sold a bog standard white brick with the Supreme logo stamped stamped on the side in red - for more than $100. And there's the example of Kanye West's $150 T-Shirts - which were literally made from the the cheapest cotton T-shirts available - then stamped 'Yeezy' with a rubber stamp - the Emperor's clothes indeed!
I already alluded to this in the introduction - and how Post-Purchase Dissonance massively impacts various sectors - including in particular the motorcar / automotive industry. It's largely the same with any significant purchase decisions - you always have options - and you always wonder if you made the right choices.
This type of Marketing is all about targeting those doubts and reservations and convincing the consumers that indeed they made the right choices - and if that decision came up again - they would be wise and happy make the same choice. This is particularly important nowadays with services like Ebay, Etsy, and Reverb.com where it's all too easy to move things on again if you decide you're not happy with them. Obviously the second-hand market becoming flooded with your goods undermines you brand equity and quality associations - and can result in a drop in consumer confidence and standing. So it really is in your best interests to convince your customers to hold onto your products and feel good about those choices.
Lifestyle Marketing plays a big part in this too - and from an advertising perspective - this is all about reflecting idealised and desirable outcomes - beautiful house / landscape / environment / family and friends ...
There are further aspects and nuances here for sure - this feature simply just focuses on 7 of the key ones. Hopefully you will go away with a better understanding of the general purpose and merits of marketing - as well as a better grasp on how you might get the most out of marketing for your particular line of business.
Marketing is a mix of verbal, visual, social and psychological persuasions - which fit into your own aspirational view of the world and focus on those lifestyle choices which bring the most benefit and enjoyment.
I Stefan, am CMO at Affino and Auteur at GuitarPedalX - and I consider myself rather as a Practical Practising Marketeer and Brand Engineer - much in the same way as Jonathan Strange vs Mr Norrell - as a Practical rather than Theoretical Magician!